Duke Energy Carolinas wants to increase residential rates for its customers between 16.2 and 16.6% by Sept. 1 and an additional 0.4% by Jan. 1. The utility is also seeking a rate hike for commercial and industrial customers. Rates would increase by 12.1% and 15.2%.

The increase is outlined in a proposal filed with state regulators, the N.C. Utilities Commission, which has the authority to approve the rate increase. Hearings on the proposal are scheduled for later in March.

Duke Energy Carolinas serves about 2 million households and businesses in central and western North Carolina, including Charlotte, Durham, and the Triad. 

The utility cited a sharp rise in fuel prices in 2022 driven by increased national and international demand and tight supplies as the reason for the proposed rate hike. 

“Fuel costs to generate electricity have more than tripled over the last year, which is a challenge faced by energy providers across the country,” said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president in a press release. “Our rates in North Carolina are far below the national average, and we’re doing everything we can to keep customer bills as low as possible.”

If approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the total monthly impact of these rate changes for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would be an increase of $19.10, from $115.01 to $134.11 ($133.68 for September-December). 

There are ways to keep the rates down, including a House bill in its early stages.

“The General Assembly provided a measured way to temper excessive energy costs in H.B. 951, which is still in the implementation process,” said Andre Believeau, Strategic Projects & Govt. Affairs Manager at the John Locke Foundation. “However, rate increases of some kind were always going to happen when we start considering the externality of reducing carbon emissions, coupled with economic factors like inflation and outsourcing American energy. H.B. 951 provides a way for reasonability to limit how high those costs will go, so long as Governor Cooper’s NCUC implements it correctly and the Biden Administration gets serious about American infrastructure and reliability.”

If NCUC approves the hike, it will be the second year in which Duke Energy Carolinas has raised rates.

Last year’s Duke Energy Carolinas fuel filing increase was 9.6% for residential customers, stemming from what the company says was a post-COVID burst in economic activity and a $327 million under-collection. 

The company’s other North Carolina utility – Duke Energy Progress – will make its annual fuel filing in June.